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Productive And Pregnant – 5 Things I Have Learned As A Pregnant Productivity Coach

Nicole Dupuis' coaching background started in the financial industry where she first discovered the art of tackling topics such as confidence, communication, goal setting, and time management. Nicole's coaching encourages clients in self discovery and exploration, guiding them to the most impactful action.

 
Executive Contributor Nicole Dupuis

I have been coaching professionals for nearly 10 years. With clients in the finance, tech, media, and retail industries, I partner with people to help them focus, channel stress effectively, manage time and energy, and improve their skills. As I write this, I am 39 weeks pregnant. If you had asked me 39 weeks ago if there was any overlap between productivity in the workplace and pregnancy, I would have said “no.” But as I struggled to define my new normal, fit in doctor’s appointments to an already packed schedule, change my eating and exercise habits, and read a whole new category of nonfiction, I noticed more and more that pregnancy and productivity go hand in hand.


A pregnant woman holding her tummy

The following tips are intended to help those out there who are not pregnant but may need to define some tools that can help in their personal and professional lives. These tips are also for those who are pregnant (or have been pregnant or are about to be) and find that the worlds of career and professional development and being a pregnant woman never commingle. Well, I am here to tell you that they do! You can have it all. Here are some helpful insights that were helpful to me on this journey.


Everything can not be tied for first

This has never been more true. During pregnancy, I was suddenly asked to flip my priorities on their head. Doctor’s appointments had to come before client meetings and workshops. I had to miss certain events or speaking opportunities in lieu of attending a birthing class or reading an extensive message from my doctor that included links and YouTube videos.


Also, my health had to really start being prioritized. This meant sleeping when I was tired, a new focus on nutrition, and staying active in new and more low-impact ways. But with all of this which all sounds great, it also meant that certain things had to be deprioritized.


Prioritizing doesn’t mean stopping or ending a path. It simply means that more of your energy is going elsewhere and usually, this is temporary. Things like early morning meetings were moved to later, and even things like writing this article came after finishing an audiobook on pregnancy.


This meant that other things could not also be my top priority. Sometimes, I had to say no to things simply to carve out time for a walk outside or to ensure my stress level stayed low.


Being super clear on what your priorities are helps navigate saying no, setting boundaries, and protecting the time and energy you need to dedicate to those things most important. Prioritizing effectively also means that you are able to reposition priorities when things are completed or checked off. In other words, you are set up for your next set of priorities before the initial ones are even finished.


To-do lists are in fact the best

I have always been a to-do list gal. Back in high school, I can remember always having a list of homework assignments and random tasks I didn’t want to forget. And I have always preached the beauty of to-do lists to my clients. During pregnancy, I feel like I am living in two worlds: the world of growing my career and focusing on personal growth for myself and my clients, and then the pregnancy world where I am trying to absorb as much information as possible (and stress over it) as well as asking all the right questions and buying enough diapers and making sure I have gifts for all the nurses that will be having to put up with me during labor and birth.


To try to keep track of all of this is a waste of the energy I need to actually do all these things. So, I keep a daily to-do list of the day’s priorities, and a smaller tasks and reminders list. I try to tackle one item from my tasks and reminders list each day, (things like “finish chapter” or “send thank you card”) in addition to the day’s specific to-do list. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not. I try not to judge how much is done but notice areas I have made progress, while focusing on eliminating things that really just aren’t significant enough to hold a spot on these lists.


Everything goes on these lists. Why? So that the energy used to try to remember and hold onto all these tasks and ideas can be used in more productive ways. Texting someone back, confirming an appointment, adding an item to my hospital bag, asking my doctor a question these all go on the list. It may seem overly detailed, but I would rather be in the weeds on paper than attempting to maintain this level of detail in my head while also running a business, growing a baby, and staying sane.


Unsolicited advice: Thanks but no thanks

During pregnancy, I learned that there are two types of people when it comes to unsolicited advice. There are those that welcome any and all advice. It is seen as just additional information that can be filed away and accessed later. The more the better–bring it on! Then some are more self-discoverers. They want to figure out some things on their own. They are a little more protective regarding how much advice they file away.


I am the second type. I want to discover some things for myself. And during pregnancy, I have received more unsolicited advice than I probably have ever before. Doctors, nurses, family members, people with children, people without, friends, acquaintances.


Unsolicited advice is typically coming from a place of wanting to help and feeling like a snippet of advice, often that was useful to the person giving it, is the simplest way to do that. It is important to remember that typically unsolicited advice is not a judgment on you. You are not being given advice because the person thinks you cannot do the thing on your own or you are desperately in need of guidance. No, usually it is just a way to provide value.


But, you get to decide how much advice you take, how you respond to the advice, and how much you actually engage in the advice you are being given. I have gotten very comfortable saying “thank you” and leaving it at that. I receive the advice, and I file it in a temporary folder in my brain. This folder is revisited later, when I am open to considering the advice, because typically, when I receive unsolicited advice, I am more annoyed that I am getting yet another piece of advice, and not in a headspace to really objectively review it. Later on, I think about the advice and determine whether it is something to really dive into. That involves 1) comparing the advice to other information I have on that topic and 2) considering the source (for example, I would probably take someone’s advice about buying a house who has owned numerous properties, over someone who has lived in the same rent-stabilized apartment for 15 years) and 3) what action, if any, should be taken based on the advice if I find it valuable.


This review process works because it allows you also to filter out the delivery of the advice. People can have the best intentions but the package they wrap it in can be toxic and off-putting. Therefore, sometimes we need time to separate the advice from the way it was delivered. This is the case in our personal and professional lives.


In a nutshell, hearing advice is somewhat of an unavoidable step. But how you engage with it afterward is totally in your control.


Trust your gut

Red snapper, can I eat it while I am pregnant? It is a valid question as there are so many random dishes that are described as “off limits” or “only in moderation” even down to how often per month you should ingest these things, if at all. So when I was at a restaurant and many of the dishes happened to include red snapper, I did what any pregnant millennial would do–I Googled it.


As you will find when Googling things, I was not the first person to ask this question. And the top results were similar to many other search results I got when asking questions about certain seemingly basic topics, during pregnancy


The first search result described the benefits of having fish during pregnancy and red snapper being a great source of amino acids (or fatty acids, I can’t remember) and other essential vitamins. But of course, the search result directly below that was a warning to avoid consumption of red snapper because it could have detrimental effects on the baby’s brain development.


So, what does one do? With so many opinions, from varying medical professionals, health periodicals, books, podcasts, social media influencers, friends, family, it is nearly impossible to find a consistent guide to take action on, well, anything!


During pregnancy, I really had to tune into my gut instincts. With differing opinions and no resolve, I had to learn to rely on my judgment. Which feels scary anyway but when you have a growing human also depending on making the right call, the pressure is on.


Tuning into your gut means being confident that you have had enough experiences, acquired enough knowledge, and have seen enough that you can make informed decisions. Your gut tells you to order the red snapper (or not) and your gut probably knows. Your gut instinct is not just “winging it” but rather pulling from all the things you have read, seen, heard, and experienced and giving you a nudge in the most informed direction possible.


Learning to listen and trust those nudges is essential. We often ignore those tugs because we second-guess ourselves. Learning to be aligned with your expertise, knowledge, and experience is important in being able to make decisions, not only confidently, but in a timely fashion. In our work and in our personal lives, we often have to make a call on something within seconds. So if you don’t even have the time to Google the details of a red snapper meal, what can you lean on to help choose a direction?


Control is nice, but letting go is nicer

When you are pregnant, you lose a lot of control. Your body, for example, does things with or without your permission. Even the birth itself can go as planned or very much the opposite. For anyone like myself who is a super organized, scheduled, self-made planner, this SUCKS! Having the least amount of control than ever can make you feel helpless. Why bother doing this or that because your body/mind/baby is going to do what it wants anyway. Cue learned helplessness, right?


But another way to look at this, pregnant or not, is there are always things you DO have control over, even if it is hard to identify them, and those things, big or small, can still make a HUGE amount of positive impact.


For example, I felt like I had very little if any, control over how my body changed during these nine months. But, what I did have control over was doing things that contributed to my overall health and wellness. I stayed active, exercising, for the most part, my usual 5 days a week, eating healthy options that were high in protein while also drinking lots and lots of water. Did this impact my body’s overall handle of the pregnancy or how much weight I gained or the baby gained? No freaking idea. But it was an area I could control and feel really positive about; like I was making the best possible choices. And with that, I was able to let go of the outcome and focus more on the journey and how that set me up for success.


Pregnant or not, productivity is less about having a color-coded calendar and consistent agendas for all your meetings, and more about how you are able to show up at your best most often. Whether you are pregnant, going for a promotion, or just trying to stay sane at your 9-5, knowing what tools and what mindset helps you with this is the key to both being a productive professional, and an overall effective and determined human.

 

Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

 

Nicole Dupuis, Productivity & Leadership Coach

Nicole Dupuis' coaching background started in the financial industry where she first discovered the art of tackling topics such as confidence, communication, goal setting, and time management. Nicole's coaching encourages clients in self discovery and exploration, guiding them to the most impactful action. Nicole coaches leaders in Fortune 100 companies, and small business owners in industries such as finance, tech and marketing. She has clients in over 5 countries and her company, Find Clarity Here, prioritizes finding clarity above all else.


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